The Electricity Candidate?

William E. Powers, Jr.

Many of you know that some of my ancestors were abolitionists, but did you know that I also come from a family of electricians? In the Powers Family (of course)– Grand Dad, Grandpa, and Dad were all electricians. As Powers Electric, three of them wired most of the houses in Oberlin, Ohio, during the first half of the 20th century.  (That is Grandpa behind the counter of the Powers Electric store in downtown Oberlin, Ohio in the early 1920s.)

Given my family history, I thought it fitting that my first real public relations job was working at Arizona Electric Power Cooperative in Benson in the early 1980s– not long after we moved to Arizona. Even back then, I had misgivings about working for a coal-fired utility because I saw the devastation that coal strip-mining caused in Appalachia– including Southern Ohio where rolling wooded hills were transformed to miles of piles of rubble. (Hopefully, that travesty has been cleaned up by now.) I took the job at AEPCO because the pay was great, the job description fit my skills perfectly, and my partner had been laid-off– leaving us both unemployed with baby. (A few months before I took that job, we were denied AHCCCS and food stamps because we weren’t completely broke.)

Fast forward to 2016, and I’m running for the Arizona House. I have met with lobbyists from Tucson Electric Power (TEP), Arizona Public Service (APS), and now Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative (GCSEC). I believe that it is valuable to meet with them because I am one of the few candidates who understands their industry and whose job it was to explain electric generation to consumers. Also– what’s going in the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) and its relationship with APS, the heated race for ACC, proposed demand charges and increased electric rates, and the life of the solar industry are all HOT topics in the 2016 election.

Yesterday, I had a congenial meeting with the GCSEC lobbyist. This is the umbrella group for the electric cooperatives in this area. Electric cooperatives were created by President Franklin Roosevelt to bring electricity to rural America through the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). The lobbyist said that I was the first ever candidate whom he has met who knows about electric co-ops and has actually worked for one.

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